Submitted by Natalie
My Reflection of Covid.
The news of the spreading pandemic hit the UK. Suddenly in the hospital, we were aware that this new virus, once far away, was now here. Everyone was filled with dread and fear. Not knowing what to expect. Worried about loved ones at home. Worried about taking this virus through our front doors.
Both myself and my partner work in the hospital. We both found ourselves working in separate areas, but both on Covid positive zones.
It was just the beginning of April, when I received a call from my partner to say he had the shivers, and was going home. He didn’t have a temperature, just felt “rough”. Later that night, he was sitting up, looking flushed, a bit clammy. I decided due to where we where working, that Covid might be a possibility. He normally has a temperature of 35.8, so, when he went to 37.4, I decided we should isolate.
We phoned the Covid hotline and work. We do not own a car, and in 2020 there were no postal swabs. An ambulance was booked to swab us. For seven days we were isolated before the “swabulance” arrived. They took the swabs, and we were told to wait up to 48 hours for results. Later that night, my partner spiked a temperature of 39.8. Covid was not confirmed, so I started doing other observations, downloading a News2 app on my phone. He was scoring high, and I didn’t know if it was Covid, or sepsis. I phoned NHS 111.
They sent an ambulance. The ambulance arrived. They said they were not following NEWS2 scores, that as he was 42, normally fit and well, he was compensating. I continued observations. It was frightening being at home, isolated, without my colleagues there when I have a sick patient, and now it was my husband.
His breathing changed, his sats dropped, and I called another ambulance. He was taken to A&E. There he was seen, but at that time they did not think he needed admitting. He came home in a taxi. A few hours later, he rapidly deteriorated, and another ambulance came. This time, he was carried down the stairs, with a non rebreathe oxygen on, and sped away with blue lights.
The ambulance crew before they left, wouldn’t let me touch him or hug him. They said I had to keep distance, even though I had been tending to him the whole time. I stood in my door way, watching the blue lights disappear, not knowing if I would see him again. Now I had to call his parents in Denmark. I stood there is shock, and tried to explain what had happened.
I heard my mother-in-law scream, and then heard the phone drop. That broke me. I went back in the house. The silence was deafening, the only sound was the thumping of my heart. My phone at my side, I sat there in silence, on the edge of my seat, in a state of pure panic. Every sound made me jump.
Finally, four hours later, I got a video call from my partner. He was in my department, being looked after by my work colleagues. He felt tired, so he said he would leave his phone on the side, on video call because I could see him. He knows I’m a control freak.
I was looking at him. A nurse came in, and then the emergency bell went off. Shortly after, the medical emergency team arrived, and I sat there in horror realising that I was seeing something I shouldn’t.
I had to make the decision to disconnect the video call, but frightened that this might be the last time I see him. He managed to look at his phone, while gasping to breathe, and whispered “I love you, hug Reuben” (our dog).
That moment broke me. He was potentially dying, but thinking of me rather than himself. I ended the call when I saw a nurse from Outreach sitting with him, holding his hand, whilst waiting for an ITU bed. A few minutes later, the dreaded phone call from the hospital. I knew the conversation pathway. I knew what was coming. I felt detached. It was my colleague ringing me, to tell me my partner was deteriorating, and was being moved to intensive care.
A doctor would ring me when he had been stabilised. There was nothing I could do, just sit there, phone in my hand, hearing my heart beat, body tense as a board, whilst I waited to hear his fate. I couldn’t even go to the toilet… What if they rang at that moment? Five hours, I sat there… Not moving, barely breathing, hearing my heart beat.
The phone call came. He was not doing well. They were going to intubate, but even then, they were not sure if he was going to make it. Do I want to come in and say goodbye? It was 3am, in Denmark it was 4am. In broken tears I had to ring his parents. Break them too. About 4.30am, I got the call to say, he had turned a corner. He was stabilising, but still very critical, not to get my hopes up.
I didn’t move, I think I didn’t move for 12 hours, maybe 18. Two if my work colleagues came to the back of my flat, bless them, and dropped of wine and chocolate. Just seeing them through the window, my work family, I didn’t feel so alone. They were crying, and so was I. Later on, I got a call to say he is stabilising on high flow oxygen.
He is on trial Covid drugs. My partner later phoned, with an NG tube to decompress him, and wearing a CPAP hood, that they were trying to fit his rather huge head. He thought now was the time to do star wars impressions “Luke….. I…. Am…your…father….”. Even critically ill, he was trying to make me laugh. The photo included is from the video call where he told me, it’s official… I am going to live.
It was another few weeks before he came home. Nearly three stone lighter.
A year on, and the real deep inner tears are just starting to make their way out. At the time, I had no time to deal with my feelings. I had to help his mum and dad over the phone. I had to help him recover. My focus was on him, how he was feeling. How was he dealing with almost dying. Hearing him wake up from nightmares. I had no time to deal with my own.
A year on, and it’s caught up with me. I’m now having to take some time, to cry those tears that did not fall. To unbury those feelings, so I too can heal.